By P.M. Riordan

I had been shrouded in utter darkness for an indeterminate length of time. I sensed that we were in motion, and I felt the movement of the vessel through the water. The smell of the sea air and salt water had occasionally wafted in, and I could feel the life around me. But I could not get to it. The box was too strong, too solid. It was impenetrable.

Now, at last, I knew that we had reached our destination. I felt the sensation of being lifted. The box was apparently in the grip of some device. A strong jolt coursed throughout my system, as the box was deposited on a hard, solid surface. As the door slowly opened, some light began to stream in. I flew over to the corner of the box, and I huddled against the cold steel wall as tightly as I could. Then, I heard the murmur of voices.

"There it is! C'mon, let's get it out of there, and out of the light as quick as we can. These things don't seem to take too well to sunlight."

I felt rough, gloved hands grab me, and I was soon deposited within another, smaller cage. This one was comprised of vertical bars. The light was gone again. These men had apparently thrown some sort of cover over the cage. I decided to go back to sleep for awhile.

When I awoke, I discovered that the cage had been uncovered again, and it had been placed on a long wooden table. The room was faintly lit. Florescent lighting. There was a small window on one wall, but it was curtained. Two men, one older and taller than the other, but both wearing long, white coats, entered the room and approached the cage.

"What do you suppose that thing is?" the taller one asked. "Darned if I know," the shorter man replied. "I've never seen anything like it. It was found in some remote area of the Amazon jungle. I'm told that there were a bunch of these things. They found 'em in some kind of cave. Well, let's have a look at it."

The two men slipped on some heavy gloves, and proceeded to unlock the cage. The tall one reached in and grabbed a hold of me. I let him pull me out of the cage. The shorter man spoke. "Certainly seems harmless enough." I turned towards the window. The curtain now showed not even the faintest trace of light through it. I squirmed out of the tall man's grasp, and dropped to the floor. I could feel the darkness now. It was time. Now I could complete the change.

I rose to my full height, and grasped the throats of both men. Their eyes were wide with fear, but I had moved too quickly for them, and my grip was tight enough to ensure that they could make no sound. I could feel their veins pulsing. I could hear their hearts pounding. I could sense the flow of their vital fluids.

I squeezed their throats harder, until they both lost consciousness. Then, I fed.

It had been a long time since I had partaken of the blood of a human being. Ever since we had been hounded and driven back into that remote jungle, our forays into what these creatures called "civilization" had been few and far between. Ah! I could feel the blood nourishing me, strengthening me. Now I could assume the human form again. I sifted through the memories I had absorbed from these two men. They were scientists. Geneticists. They had been studying and even creating what they called "hybrids". They had thought me to be one of these. Of course! Having been caught by the rising sun in mid-transformation, which was the state I was in when the explorer men found me, I was unrecognizable. They had thought I was some kind of new creature, a missing link between two species. They did not recognize what I was. They didn't realize what they had rediscovered after all these years.

I searched further through the memories I'd assimilated. A plan began to form in my mind. I made myself resemble the tall human more exactly. Then, I dragged their two bodies - or what was left of them - downstairs to the burning place I'd sensed. Some sort of incinerator. I dumped them in.

My plan began to take shape. I will take this man's place. I will learn more about these genetic experiments. I'll send the explorers back to the Amazon to "capture" more specimens from the cave. My brothers and sisters can join me here, and we will replace the rest of this scientific team. Perhaps we can use this knowledge to keep our presence and identity a secret. No longer will we have to hide from men. Maybe we can even find a way to survive in sunlight. And then, eventually, we will take over. We will become the dominant species. I called the head of the expedition into "my" office. I gave him his instructions. He handed me the requisition slip for the supplies he would need. I scanned my new memories for the human scientist's name. I reached out for the paper and signed it.

The man picked up the form, and then he looked up at me and spoke. "We'll get right on it. Thanks, Dr. Mengele."

Copyright 1998 by P.M. Riordan

Bio, E-mail, and URL:

Paul can be e-mailed at: Riordan@magic.dcrt.nih.gov

Sign Aphelion's Guestbook

Visit Aphelion's Lettercolumn and voice your opinion of this story. Both the writer and I would love to read your feedback.

Return to the Aphelion main page.